MOSCOW, April 8 (RAPSI) - NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will testify before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE) parliamentary hearing on mass surveillance live via video link Tuesday afternoon from Moscow, the organization announced.
The hearing will take place at 2pm Strasbourg time (GMT + 2), which is 4pm in Moscow.
“Among other things, we hope to ask him what his revelations mean for ordinary users, how they should try to protect their privacy, what kind of restrictions Europe should now impose on state surveillance, whilst remaining effective in the fight against terrorism, and how these might be enforced,” said PACE Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee member Pieter Omtzigt.
Omtzigt added that Snowden has triggered a major public debate on privacy, and that the PACE members hosting the hearing would like to learn more about how the NSA deals with whistleblowing.
Omtzigt said that US officials declined to respond to an invitation to present their side of the story.
Snowden, a computer specialist and former contractor for the NSA, was the focus of international attention over the summer after he leaked to the media classified evidence of US government surveillance programs.
On June 14, the US authorities charged Snowden under three articles, each of them stipulating punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Two of the charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.
Having initially fled to Hong Kong, he arrived in Moscow on June 23. On August 1, after an extended stay in a Moscow airport, he was granted temporary asylum and is now living at an undisclosed location in Russia.
Noting the difficulty Snowden might face with traveling in light of the US charges standing against him, and the possibility of a US extradition request to France, Omtzigt suggested in the memo: “It will be ultimately up to Mr Snowden, in agreement with his Russian hosts, to decide whether he feels confident to accept such an invitation. As fallback, we could invite Mr Snowden to participate in the hearing by way of teleconferencing, or the Committee could authorise me to visit him in Russia and report back to it.”